Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Been GREAT!

Hi Everyone,
Well......I guess this will be the last blog......we're back in the U.S.......visiting family and friends....ready to start our next God adventure.......missing the Nigerian rocks already! We had a good trip home - a layover in Frankfort, Germany and Chicago. Our first American foods once in Chicago were a Big Mac for Crist from McDonald's and a chocolate milk shake for me - yummy!! It was sooooo good to see our son and family again. Little Camille and Corinne were both shy but this morning are beginning to "come around." There's something so sweet about little arms around your neck giving you a big hug!!!
This afternoon we did a little bit of clothes shopping. I desperately needed a pair of jeans and a couple of casual tops to wear in these cooler temperatures. Crist needed a couple of casual shirts and a new wallet. Shopping was successful - it's amazing how quickly we could get back to buying things once again. We didn't do much shopping in Nigeria - no malls or stores to get ready-made clothes. Tomorrow we're going to go looking for a used car to purchase. I wonder if I've forgotten how to drive (grin). I haven't been behind the wheel in a year. We'll be here at Crist and Cheryl's until next Monday and then we leave to do a week of traveling visiting friends and relatives in Ky. and Illinois. Our thoughts are that we'll be at our home in N.C. on the 19th of April.
Once again, thanks to many of you who made this last year possible for Crist and I. We left a two room bungalow just waiting for another STINT (one year'ers) couple or individual to stay at in Jos. Maybe this is something you would like to do or you know of someone who might like to spend a year in Nigeria in ministry. Your room is waiting!!!
Hopefully we'll see most of you in the days ahead. Thank you for your love and support this past year. We are truly blessed!!!! This will be our last blog. We hope you had a real sense of what we were doing in Jos. God bless each of you!!
Eileen and Crist

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Almost Last Blog

Hi Everyone, This is unreal. I started this blog this morning while still in Jos but all of a sudden people were coming to say "good-bye", so now it's 5:30 at night and we're sitting in our hotel room in Abuja. It's been a crazy few days and all our good intentions have gone out the window. I had visions of my writing a beautiful heart-felt "last blog", sharing all of the deep emotions we are experiencing right now with having to say good-bye and give last hugs to the people we have worked closely with the past year as well as all of our new Nigerian friends. But it's just not working out the way I had hoped. We have only an hour left of battery time on our computer, we're totally drained of all energy and emotion and we're really really tired. The Nigerian people love to give a proper "send-off" when friends leave to go somewhere, so the past two days have been filled with people stopping by to say good-bye, the ECWA church we attended giving us a wonderful send-off yesterday afternoon and all the B2B staffers having us over for dinner with many more good-byes. I have no more tears left. And we still have to say our final good-bye to Alphonsus when he takes us to the airport on Sunday. That's going to be a hard one - he's become very special to us. We originally weren't scheduled to leave for the U.S. until the 12th of April, but national elections start tomorrow - three consecutive Saturdays beginning tomorrow. We were STRONGLY advised by many many people that we should get to Abuja before the elections - so we left Jos this morning. Tomorrow is a "no traveling" day throughout Nigeria so we'll have to stay here at the hotel all day. Our plane leaves Sunday evening and Corrie and John's plane leaves very early on Monday morning. It's feels almost surreal that our time here in Nigeria is almost finished. It has been an incredibly FAST year hasn't it? We wouldn't change a thing about what we've experienced and/or learned. We feel so totally blessed to have been able to join one of our children on the mission field and to have met so many great Nigerians (and B2B staffers) and to walk alongside them in faith and ministry. At the church "send-off" yesterday, we were each presented with a Nigerian dress/outfit which we were told to put on then (they provided a hut to change into). I don't have the pictures of the day to share with you, but many of you will see Crist and I wearing our outfits from time to time (they're BEAUTIFUL!!) in the future. It was so encouraging to us to hear people's comments and heartfelt feelings about our leaving. It was like attending our own funeral - humbling yet so very sweet. And many at yesterday's "send-off" still came to the compound this morning to once again say their good-byes. So right this very minute it's almost six in the evening and we're just about ready to go to bed (I'm almost not kidding). We're all tuckered out!!! BUT EXCITED!!! We're coming home and now that the good-byes have been said - it's time to think of all of you and all of the "we're back!!!!" We can't wait to see each of you in the near future. We'll probably blog one last time once we've arrived somewhere we can recharge our computer. We love you all - thanks to many, many of you who allowed this last year to happen for us!! In-joy, Eileen and Crist

Monday, March 28, 2011

Disciple Making

Hi Everyone, Matthew 28:19 says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations......" With our days here in Jos, Nigeria almost to a close, Crist has mentioned almost every week how much he has loved being a part of the Tuesday afternoon Bible Study in the village. A year ago, he and Jason started with just a few young men (see the picture below), and ever so slowly their numbers began to increase. Then six months ago Will and Theresa came and Will began helping to facilitate the Bible Study and Emmanuel (the man the farthest to the right in the picture above) began witnessing and sharing with the men he works with at the local car wash. Then things began to really happen, evidenced by the above picture showing more young men wanting to learn about God's Word. And from this larger group, outreach is beginning to happen with the men going into their own village and helping the widows that need sticks to be gathered for selling, or hut repairs and/or any number of chores that need to be done. It is exciting to see the Word become alive to them and for them to realize (maybe for the first time) that they must be "doers of the Word" not just "hearers". This will be a group that Crist will miss greatly. This afternoon will be his last village Bible Study. In-joy, Eileen and Crist

Friday, March 25, 2011

Giving a Vision and a Hope

Hi Everyone,
The group in the picture up above just left and wow oh wow - was it ever a busy week, but we're all excited to see what was accomplished in the short time that they were here. We partner with another ministry called "SSE" (Self-Sustaining Enterprises) and this group in their home church in Ohio partner with SSE so we all worked together with a common purpose. SSE tries to bring small businesses for the people in the village to help them become self-sustaining. These Christians came with monies to help with two projects. The first one is the picture below. An old storage shed on our OCC property was converted into a chicken coop and one of the men from the village was trained in caring for the chickens and in a few months these once baby chicks (they are now almost two months old) will be sold to restaurants and to private companies for them to use and the monies will go back into the ministry for more chickens and hopefully this will expand and other villagers can start their own chicken businesses. Solomon, the young man now caring for the chickens is very very excited to be a part of this new venture. He told another B2B staffer that he recently woke up in the middle of the night really "happy." He now has a vision and a hope.
But, the most exciting thing that this team did this past week was to build a test model aquaponics system that we hope will one day completely revolutionize the way the villagers will do their farming. Several on this team have much experience and did much research before coming to Nigeria and they purchased the materials needed and in the pictures below you can see the process that took place.

They first built a large slightly slanted table 32 feet long, covered it with a heavy industrial material then a heavy plastic put on top of that. They then filled the table with rock chips about four inches deep.

The table is angled down towards a large tub (spa sized) which contains water and 200 catfish fingerlings. They feed the catfish, the catfish poop and the wastes and water is recirculated through a filter which removes the solid waste and allows the nutrient filled water to cover the whole table which then drains back into the pool. In the rocks are little green squares of a material that will help germinate the seed that has been planted inside this pourous square. To begin with we they planted some tomatoe seeds and lettuce seeds. The lettuce will be ready to pick in 30 days and the tomatoes slightly longer and will be ongoing. The benefits to the community if this project succeeds and then can be replicated, will be life-changing. Even in the dry season (which lasts six months), villages can still produce crops that can be sold to earn income. Within two days after the construction, we could already see a little shoot popping up from one of the lettuce seeds - see one of the pictures below.

The last thing the team did was build a plastic covering over the entire table which still allows the sun to get in but will keep rains from hurting the crops. A solar panel was purchased which will charge the battery which is used to power the three pumps that aireates the water and recirculates the water through the vegetation. Many people helped in this week's building of the aquaponics and some days there were several people from the village watching and hoping, I'm sure, that this might help their economy and families. We sure would appreciate your prayers toward this end. It's time for the people in Kisayhip Village to have a future and a hope!!
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people will perish."
Eileen and Crist

Monday, March 21, 2011

Living Water

Hi Everyone,
The above picture is the "before" picture of the borehole that was recently drilled in the Kisayhip Village on the village Doctor's compound and the picture below is the "after" picture from yesterday afternoon's dedication of the borehole. The man in the orange Nigerian dress is the Chairman of the village and he said a few words during the ceremony, as well as Pastor
Dauda who gave the opening prayer.
We pumped the water out and allowed the children to fill little bottles and some do some typical children's behavior of playing in the water. It was a VERY hot afternoon and the water was truly refreshment in a dry and dusty land. This reminds me of the Scripture that says: "Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13&14

These women to the left are some of the widows from the Catholic Church in the village. The dresses they are wearing were part of the Widow Outreach we had a few weeks back where we measured the widows in the village (around 38 of them) and had an outfit made for each of them. They just received the dresses this past week so it was fun to see them wearing them yesterday. At the dedication ceremony, these widows sang a couple of songs which was a pleasant surprise since we weren't expecting it.

We probably had close to one hundred people from the village show up and there was a real sense of celebration to the event. Something we take so for granted in the United States (water), is truly a reason for rejoicing in the village. It's the end of the dry season here in Nigeria and many wells have run dry - so this borehole (which won't run dry - because it's deeper than the wells) can make a difference in the health of the villagers - since this water source will be cleaner and purer but it can also make a physical difference in their lives as this water source is closer so they won't have to walk as far to get it, and it is free and THEIR water source. Someone in the states paid for the drilling of it, but now it belongs to the villagers.

This last picture up above is of some bouganvallia (I think this is mispelled) that is right outside our apartment (we're to the left - and Corrie and John are to the right). A year ago when we came these weren't here - see how quickly they have grown. And they bloom in the dry season, which I've never understood. They require very little water, which I also don't understand. These flowers are all over Nigeria and the colors are rose, bright pink, orange, white and red. They're absolutely beautiful. God shows His creation in such amazing ways!!
We have a team here from Ohio and they're a great group of businessmen (and one woman) that are very excited about aquaponics and they're making a "model" in the village that will hopefully become the real thing in helping the villagers be able to successfully grow crops all year round using very little space.
Chat with you again soon.
Eileen and Crist

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just To Let You Know

Hi Everyone!
Yep! Here are "my" rocks once again. I just wanted to let you all know that because of the team being here, I might not be blogging for a few days. So, in the meantime, thought you could all look at (Okay, they're His rocks!) God's rocks again and think about how blessed you each are and how much you have to be thankful for. Especially with what's going on in Japan, we should really be seeking the Lord for ourselves and our families.

But, before I sign off, I do want to say how very very thankful Crist and I are for our family - Kelley, Chris, Phillip, Joshua, & Gabe Lett, Crist, Cheryl and Henry, Brock, Claire, Seth, Colette, Corinne and Camille Hamilton, Corrie, John, Sarah, Gus & Sami Guckenberger and Jodi, Heath, Lydia, Noah and Allie Caddell. You are all held deeply in our hearts, and Dad and I love each of you for who you are and we are so thankful for the Lord's hands in your lives!! You are special, special, special to us!

"And Father, we pray for the people of Japan. We pray that through all the devastation the Japanese are experiencing now; through the heartache and pain, that You will show Yourself Mighty and Strong - their Healer, their Comforter and their Redeemer. Amen"

Eileen and Crist
(and for that special someone who wanted their name mentioned - there it is!! grin - see you soon!)

The Beginning of "The Lasts"

Hi Everyone,
Well, we're getting down to the wire now and we're beginning to have "last things" happening - which in some respect is sad. Though the other night's dinner with all of the B2B staff wasn't sad at all. It was fun to all sit together and eat and share and laugh. Corrie had some fun activities where we had to guess things about their family and the one who won would receive a small gift. You would think that we'd win, right? Afterall, we're their parents!!!!

I'm not even sure we were close to winning! Theresa won that honor - I guess we're not as observant as we should be. grin

Much of Corrie and John's furniture is being sold to another ministry and some Jason and Emilee and Will and Theresa have now. All of our furniture will stay, in case the ministry uses our little apartment for other people to use. Little by little, we're giving things away and even packing some things into our suitcases. Saturday we have a team coming so for the next week it will be super busy. We'll try to continue blogging - so check in on us from time to time.

"A time to keep and a time to throw away." Ecc. 3:6b
Eileen and Crist

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just So You Know....

Hi Everyone,
I actually enjoy every few days getting on the computer and blogging to all of you. We download any and all the pictures we've taken and then we resize them so they can fit the blog and then I look at the pictures and think of something "clever" and "witty" (grin) to write so that you can better understand what we're doing here in Jos, Nigeria. But.....I am finding myself in a dilemma this afternoon. The last few ministry events or places we have gone, we didn't remember to bring our camera. So.....just so you know......these two pictures are all that we have left in our picture folder. This is IT folks! So, now I have to say something about these mud blocks in the picture below. Nigerians build their huts and/or their block homes in two ways. The more expensive way is by making and using concrete blocks. Our little bungalow and Corrie and John's house are made with concrete blocks. For some reason, and we're not sure why, the price of concrete has gone up considerably in the last few months, so we are seeing more and more people (especially in the villages) making their own mud blocks - which essentially is mixing water with the dirt in the backyard and adding a little bit of straw and then cutting out the squares and letting them dry in this dry heat. From what we're told, these mud bricks last for quite a while - even during the rainy season (which I don't understand at all how they just don't dissolve in the rain). This last picture in our picture folder is of the new borehole at the Doctor's Compound. Because of expenses, only a pump handle will be available for getting the water (as opposed to a spigot type). But everyone in this part of the village is very excited to have this clean water source now. Since this is the end of the dry season, many wells are beginning to run dry and now they have clean water that we hope and pray won't run dry.
We have a large team of businessmen coming this Saturday - so hopefully we can take alot of pictures and show you some of the things they will be doing (if we don't forget our camera - grin). We miss you all and can't wait to see you in a few weeks!!
Eileen and Crist

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Was So Much Fun

Hi Everyone,

Okay - it's me again - Crist. Since this blog is directly related to what I experienced, I thought it would be better if I did the sharing this time.

As we've mentioned before, every Tuesday afternoon I'm part of a mens' Bible Study in the village. We can have anywhere from 7 to 13 (this includes Will and I from B2B staff) young men and most of them work at the car wash. I love this Bible Study and seeing how the Word of God is beginning to come alive in their hearts. They have begun to ask many faith, life and Bible questions and it's such an encouragement to me to see their faith growing.

Recently we received donations from the states of several pairs of used soccer shoes/cleats. Many in the Bible Study also are part of the village football (soccer) team and after Bible Study this past Tuesday, Will allowed those who are on the football team to look and see if they could find a pair of shoes that would fit them. It was like watching "kids in a candy store." There were smiles and laughter everywhere and each would hold up their feet to show the others their
newfound treasures. This is such a "little" thing to those of us from the U.S., but to these young men it was truly like a gift from God.
"Thank You Lord for allowing me to be a part of your perfect plan for these few. Continue to grow in each of them a desire to know you better. Protect and watch over of them and allow them to become leaders and men of God in their village." Amen
Crist and Eileen

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

These Children Are What B2B Is All About

Hi Everyone,

From the moment we set foot on Nigerian soil, there have been children all around us. For some of the littlest ones, they have cried when they first saw us because they had never seen a baturi (white person) before.

But for most of the children, there have been nothing but shy smiles, giggles and always a desire to hold your hand, pull the hairs on your arms and to just love on you! Children are so precious with their unconditional love for you. They have no expectations of you - they just want to be with you. In the states, children are told (and justifiably so) to not talk to strangers and to be careful to who you talk to. Not so - in Nigeria. They rush up to you and want to swing from your hands and to just walk along the road with you. We're going to miss that. We're going to miss these children; raw clay just waiting to be molded by the Father into His unique creation for each of them.

Please pray for more workers to come to Nigeria so that these children and hundreds just like them can learn more about God's perfect plans for them. Please pray for hearts to be broken for the lost in Nigeria and for each of us to be used by God and not to settle for "safe."

"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Eileen and Crist

Monday, March 7, 2011

Colors, Colors, Colors!!

Hi Everyone,
I've shared with you many times about how much I love the Nigerian dresses that the women wear. I love the colors and patterns in the fabrics. I would venture to guess that probably 75% of all Nigerian women, go to the material huts in the market and purchase their material and then take the fabric to a dressmaker who then makes their dresses. Included with your dress will always come a large swatch of material that is used for the headwraps that probably 95% of all women wear almost all the time. On Sundays to church, I will wear a headwrap and by the time the service is over, it feels like my head is ready to explode and it always itches for some reason. I'm just not used to wearing something close to my head that way. But to the Nigerian woman, it is very very natural and comfortable.

In the United States, we've become used to wearing alot of solid colors and some flowery prints for a summer dress - but rarely do we wear a dress that is BOLD with all types of abstract designs. Not so here. Even women with a larger frame (that's me folks! - grin) wear these wild patterns and they look beautiful. I'm not brave enough to do it - my loss!!
Speaking of colors - at the Carnival at Hillcrest on Saturday, Sarah won some games which gave her tickets, which allowed her to redeem the tickets for small prizes. One of Sarah's prizes that she picked out was a can of hair spray that sprayed a HOT orange stream onto your hair. Sarah's hair is brown so you couldn't see the full effect of the orange spray so she asked if she could spray my hair. I said (as any good grandma would do) "yes." Voila - the picture below. Cute, huh? With my white hair, you sure could see the color. I got alot of funny stares as we left the carnival and headed for home. It took two good hair scrubbings before the hairspray came fully out. Whew! I was worried there for a little while.
But having all kinds of beautiful colors in fabrics, flowers and bushes, people's skin and yes, even in someone's hair - doesn't it make life interesting? Well, we'll chat again with you soon.
Eileen and Crist

Friday, March 4, 2011

The "Good-Byes" Begin

Hi Everyone,
This afternoon, Crist and I were invited to be a part of a "good-bye" lunch for Corrie and Sami given by the third grade mothers. Sami is in 3rd Grade and this group of moms are very close knit and supportive of one another. Everyone brought something to eat and it was all so good!! This first picture shows the moms (and me - the Grandma!). There are 19 children in the class and with all their siblings present to eat, it seemed like there were 30 children running around.

There's our daughter, Corrie (in the white sweater), in the picture below with many of the moms. These pictures are unusual in the fact that every other time I've seen these woman they are ALWAYS beautifully dressed in Nigerian clothes, but this morning at Hillcrest, was a "Field Day" for the children so all the moms were encouraged to wear very comfortable clothes because everyone was helping with this fun day at the school. I enjoyed seeing the women in this informal setting. You know.....when you get a group of women together, regardless of nationality, there's always plenty to talk about. I know that Corrie will miss these women alot. I've always thought that I'm kind of tall compared to many women, but when I look at that first picture, yikes! I look short, don't I compared to the Nigerian women around me. I bet I've shrunk some as I'm getting older, huh? grin
Tomorrow is a "Carnival" at Hillcrest that one of the grades is putting on as a fundraiser. Corrie sadly told me that there won't be any Elephant Ears to eat, but there will be cotton candy, hot dogs, pizza and other fun foods. Yummy! I made a BIG pot of vegetable soup a few days ago and that's what Crist and I have been eating alot of lately - I'm ready for some junk food!!!
Chat with you soon.
Eileen and Crist

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Hi Everyone,
I can't be at the rocks today, but I needed to see them anyway because they bring tranquility to my soul and I figured you would like to see them again anyway - grin! These days, Crist and I are both feeling such mixed emotions. We'll be leaving in five weeks and I have to be honest with you - we're very excited about returning home to our friends and family and the familiar. But, we're leaving behind wonderful new friends, a growing, busy ministry and a land filled with hidden beauty and beautiful skies.
Let me share with you some of the things we're going to miss when we leave:
  • Who would have thought that we'd miss one day big boulders/rocks? But we will!
  • I'm going to miss the twenty or thirty little lizards that live around our apartment. They're just so cute with all the different colors on their bodies.
  • We're going to miss all of the B2B staff that have begun to feel like "family" to us. What a great group of people God has assembled here to do His work in Nigeria.
  • I'm going to miss the six months of almost perfect weather - not a cloud in the sky - and gentle breezes and sometimes not so gentle breezes.
  • We're going to miss seeing cattle grazing alongside the roads and sometimes even in the roads!
  • I'm going to miss Kenny, Joe, Daniel, Hope, Suzanne, Ochachee, Lucky, Esther, Abigail, Claire and all the caregivers at OLA. They will all remain in our prayers.
  • Our ECWA Village Church and the women singing each Sunday, and the drums and joy as they worship.
  • I will miss the BEAUTIFUL, colorful clothing that the women wear each day.
  • I will miss the quiet evenings with Crist - every evening! A wonderful, slower pace.
  • The filled streets and markets and the peacefulness of the village at dusk when people are out cooking and fellowshipping with one another.
  • We will miss have Corrie and John, Sarah, Gus and Sami living five feet from us - we really will!
  • All the village children - each and every one of them.

I feel like I could go on and on with this list. God is blessing us here in Nigeria......but we're excited to be going home! Such a contrast of emotions.


Eileen and Crist
"Lord, if Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from this place." Exodus 33:15

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Work Day At The Oasis Center

Hi Everyone,
This past week everyone on staff met on Wednesday at the Oasis Center and had a good old fashioned Work Day. Over the past several months, donations from teams that have come from the states, as well as things brought over on a container, have begun to stack up and no one knew where anything was anymore. We wanted to "start from scratch" and take almost everything out and then put it all back into the rooms - only this time organized, straightend up and labeled. In the picture above is Emilee and Solomon and Emmanuel. Solomon and Emmanuel work for B2B and they are such assets to the ministry (and hard workers too!).

Here on the left is Crist in another room sorting and putting away. This box to the right is a really cool story. As we were sorting through all the clothing that has been donated, it came to our attention that a Nigerian friend of the ministry - his house had had a fire the day before and his two sons lost all of their clothing because the fire was mostly in their room. Within a matter of a few minutes we had a large box filled with clothes in the appropriate sizes, shoes, toiletries etc. all ready to be taken to the family. We love it when God puts all the pieces together and fills a need.

And here is Corrie (three or four of us ladies were sorting outside through all the clothing and stacking the clothes according to gender) sorting through the donations. People from the states have been so generous in their giving and we know in the months ahead much of this clothing will be given away.

We broke for lunch and all ate together and then went back to work. We finished everything that was on the list to do and all returned home weary but happy to see everything back in order once again.
Wouldn't it be great if it would be this easy to clean up our hearts?
But the principle is the same, isn't it? We need to take the time and purposefully sort through all the "stuff" in our lives and prioritize, clean out and throw away so our "house/hearts" will be clean before the Lord.
Hope everyone is doing well. We'll chat with you again soon.
Eileen and Crist